Saturday Challengers bowling program going strong for more than 50 years

Posted at 7:00 AM, Apr 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-08 11:13:50-04

DENVER -- The bowling lanes at Monaco Lanes are always packed on the weekends, but during the Saturday Challengers program they can be overflowing.

Saturday Challengers is a drop-in bowling program that falls in the Denver Parks & Recreation’s Adaptive Recreation program. 

It’s been held every Saturday for more than 50 years.

“All the participants are learning social skills, money management skills and then they are actually getting a lot of physical activity as well,” said adaptive instructor Dani Depas.

Bowling skill is not needed at these weekly gatherings, but the ability to make friends and socialize is a key.

And everybody gets to meet Don.

“Don has been bowling with Saturday Challengers since the very beginning,” instructor Judy Pankoff said.  “I think he’s an original member.”

When Denver7 photojournalist Josh Montoya caught up with Don, he learned that Don has been attending Saturday Challengers sessions since 1963. But other than that, Don didn’t have much to say.

“What do you like about bowling?” Josh asked.

“It’s a fun sport,” Don responded.

“Are you a good bowler?” Josh asked.

“My average is 181,” Don answered.

Joanie Neibaur is another longtime bowler. 

“I can’t remember when I first started,” Joanie said, “but it was years ago.”

Of course, she’s bowled against Don many times over the years.

“Out of you and Don, who’s the better bowler?” Josh asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied, adding she was bowling a 103 during her current game. “I think I do pretty good, but I don’t know.”

One thing Joanie does know is that she plans to keep coming to the Saturday Challengers program.

“I think it’s great when our people stay involved and find a program that they like and continue with,” Pankoff said.

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